Owen Foster's Character Rich Toyota 4Runner & Chromag Surface

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Oct 2, 2019

Owen Foster is part of the OneUp Components team based in Squamish B.C. He joined in July 2016 as the second employee. Living above the office, his 'commute' was regularly completed in socks. You may not know his name, but if you’ve ridden in Squamish, there’s a good chance your tires rolled over Owen’s handy work. He’s an unassuming, genuine and low-key guy, passionate about bikes or anything else that he’s into. That passion is clear in his bike builds but leaves you wondering, what does he drive?

Side Panel 3/4 of Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Zombie

Owen Foster's jacked up hillbilly Toyota 4Runner juxtaposed against his detail-oriented Chromag Surface hardtail.

“Zombie” – Owen’s Toyota 4Runner SR5 V6

Owen’s current vehicle of choice is polarizing. It’s about as backwoods, gun toting, hillbilly hick as it gets, but he’s got his reasons. The ’95 4Runner SR5 is a head turner and possibly for the wrong reason but for Owen, it’s all about access. He’d owned a couple of late 80’s 4Runners “a lifetime ago” and has always had a soft spot for them. Owen is a keen explorer and wanted something capable with high clearance to take him on his backroad scouting missions. Zombie clearly fits the bill perfectly.

Zombie's Specs

  • '95 Toyota 4Runner SR5 with moonroof/sunroof
  • Purchased as is with exception to the rattle can paint job
  • Alloy 15-inch rims painted with rubberized bed liner
  • 35 x 12.5 BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires with 15psi rear and 20psi front
  • Mudflaps are a single semi-truck mudflap split in two and custom mounted
  • 180,000 kms and "terrible on gas"
  • It accompanied Owen on two BCBR tours around Discovery Channel, and up to Pemby
  • Custom made hitch fabrication in place of bumper
  • Reworked gearing to compensate for the mega tires
  • Rattle can matte black spray paint
Rattle can painted over Chromag sticker on Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Zombie

Owen names his vehicles and bikes. His ’95 4Runner SR5 is called Zombie. It was a good name for the original gloss black beast, but it’s even more fitting now with that matte black rattle can spray job. By estimates, it cost about 3% of the bill a proper body shop/painter would charge. It cost Owen $80 and a morning of masking and spraying.

35-inch tires of Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Zombie

Zombie rolls on a set of 35 x 12.5-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires, wrapped around 15-inch wheels. The tires are typically aired up to 20psi in the front and 15psi rear. Grip is high and off-road she’s a smooth ride. On asphalt, it’s a different story though.

Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner engine bay

As with all old vehicles, the engine bay is dirty and oily with rust mixed in. Gear ratios have been reworked for the large tires, but it's otherwise stock.

Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Engine

Everything runs well but with the wheel and suspension modifications it gets ‘terrible gas mileage’. Despite its age, it only has 180,000km on it and is in good condition for a 23-year-old vehicle.

A lot of the modern 4x4 models look like jellybeans but 20 years ago they were the best looking vehicles out there. – Owen Foster
35-inch tires and a lot of room to move on Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Zombie

The 4Runner sits on a 4-inch body lift, poised another 6 inches off the ground thanks to the suspension lift. The wheel wells are aftermarket as well. Owen's driven the 4Runner as far as possible up every FSR within 50km of Squamish.

A split in two semi-truck mud flap on Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Zombie

With the exception of the rattle can paint, Owen purchased the vehicle as is. That includes the custom mud flaps, which are made from a single semi-truck mud flap cut in half. They’re mounted via a custom fabricated rail hitch attached to the frame.

Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Dash

Surprisingly there is no clutter up front. A thin layer of dust from summer offroad travel coats the inside. But other than that, it's kept quite clean.

Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner aftermarket stereo

Owen is quite into his music, so it was surprising to find no custom speaker system in the car. The upgraded stereo, like most of the vehicle, remains as it was when he purchased it.

Until recently I had no commute (as in shoes optional). I now have about a 10km zip across town when I'm not bike commuting. Its way overkill and I often get WTF looks from soccer moms in their Porsche SUVs. It's good fun. – Owen Foster
Rear shot of Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Zombie

The rear of Owen’s 4Runner has some interesting custom pieces too. Holding his bike rack in place is a custom fabricated hitch in place of a bumper. Issues with clearance during shuttles are minimal with this setup…

Custom rear hitch on Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner Zombie

Without a proper bumper, there’s less concern of bumps and scrapes. Though I’m not sure it would matter anyway.

Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner with tools living in the back

Owen's 4Runner doubles as a tool shed. A permanent fixture in the back, they make it easy to grab and go on a trail work mission.

Owen Foster's Toyota 4Runner with tools in the back seat

Some of the tools don't make it all the way back either. Also note the custom Kashima bottle opener. It was made for Owen by a friend from New Zealand. Who doesn't want one of these!?

Owen Foster's Custom Chromag Surface Sheena

Owen's custom-built Chromag Surface is a looker that includes a very carefully selected parts spec. The long wet winter of 2015/16 is to blame for the beautiful bike and in 2016 it won the Chromag Show & Shine.

Owen’s Custom Chromag Surface, “Sheena"

Like a lot of Sea to Sky riders, Owen has a couple of bikes. Sheena, his custom built and painted Chromag Surface is what he considers his forever bike. Sheena sees the most action during the winter months but isn’t left gathering dust through the warmer months. The bike is a Chromag Surface with a custom paint job and completely custom build that includes some really unique parts. From the Terrene tires to the MRP Ribbon fork and “Shigura” brakes, the parts have each been carefully selected to meet Owen’s demands.

Sheena's Specs

  • Medium Chromag Surface (435mm reach)
  • Custom painted Apple Red fade to Black Sparkle
  • Custom cursive Chromag logo usually found on their softgoods
  • MRP Ribbon fork
  • Chromag touchpoints
  • Shigura XT7 Brakes (Shimano XTR Master Cylinder & Magura MT7 caliper)
  • We Are One Agent rims laced to red I9 Torch hubs with Sapim Race spokes and red nipples (thanks Dustin!)
  • Shimano XTR cranks and derailleur
  • 11/47 OneUp’d XT Cassette (18 and 47 OneUp sprockets)
  • OneUp EDC tool in steerer and pump attached to bottle cage
  • OneUp Dropper seatpost
  • Terrene Chunk Tough 29 x 2.6 tires w/ Huck Norris DH in the rear
Apple red to black sparkle fade and cursive Chromag logo on Owen Foster's Custom Chromag Surface Sheena

Sheena’s custom paint was inspired by a drum kit that Owen lusted for as a teenager. He was finally able to get it—the colour that is, the drums never happened. Owen opted for the Chromag cursive logo often found on their softgoods.

OneUp EDC Tool on Owen Foster's Custom Chromag Surface Sheena

Working at OneUp you can bet the bike is kitted out with a selection of their parts. Cleverly, Owen removed anything new or proto from the bike.

The focus of my obsession was the most unique and top spec. bike from small companies who I think are great. – Owen Foster
MRP Ribbon on Owen Foster's Custom Chromag Surface Sheena

An MRP Ribbon air was chosen for its versatility. Owen changes the travel between 130 and 160mm (and it can be done in 5mm increments). Sheena is converted into an overland machine for bigger, gravel-type missions in the spring with the fork lowered to 130mm and a set of semi-slicks thrown on. Currently, it sits at 160mm.

We Are One carbon wheels on Owen Foster's Custom Chromag Surface Sheena

Keeping it Canadian. Sheena was originally built with Easton Arc rims but after riding a bike with a set of We Are One Agent wheels, Owen had to have a set for himself.

One neat—and financially dangerous—thing about building up a Made in Canada Chromag (Surface, Samurai, Primer, Nice Dreams) is the option of custom paint. – Owen Foster
Glossy Apple Red Colour on Owen Foster's Custom Chromag Surface Sheena

That delicious glossy candy apple red.

Chromag touchpoints on Owen Foster's Custom Chromag Surface Sheena

Chromag touchpoints finish off the carefully selected build. When deciding on frame size, Owen took into account that the fit was almost identical to his second bike at the time; a Norco Sight. Switching between bikes was easy with them being so similar.

Owen Foster's Chromag Surface with Shigura brakes

And what about those Shigura XT7 brakes? Owen mated a pair of Shimano XTR master-cylinders to Magura MT7 calipers.

Owen Foster's Chromag Surface with Shigura brakes

The lines, fluid and caliper are all Magura. Owen prefers the ergonomics of the Shimano lever and says there's "so much stopper, it's silly".

Owen’s selection of vehicles is perfectly suited to his needs. His 4Runner may look as redneck as a souped-up ride-on lawn mower but for Owen, it serves a purpose. It’s enabled him to get out and explore the backroads around home, accessing areas that a nicer, or more regular model 4x4 may struggle with. Sheena is a better representation of Owen's personality and may be one of the most well put together bikes I’ve seen with my own eyes. The attention to detail is amazing and the versatility of the bike has it serving various duties in his quiver.

Trending on NSMB


+3 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae Dan
Vik Banerjee  - Oct. 2, 2019, 6:39 a.m.

Nice truck! :)

I'm 10yrs into seasoning my F150 so it'll be as rad as Owen's truck in another 13yrs.


Cam McRae  - Oct. 2, 2019, 8:20 a.m.

You should probably sell/lend it to someone who will treat 'er mean for a few years and then reclaim it!


Vik Banerjee  - Oct. 2, 2019, 10:44 a.m.

It's paid for. I'm going to keep driving it until it's not economically feasible to keep it rolling. But, hey if you want to loan me your vehicle for a few years I'll beat on it and then give it back to you if you see that as a win. ;-)


Cam McRae  - Oct. 2, 2019, 3:50 p.m.

I'm not so into seasoning. My Taco will get seasoned enough with stinky mountain bikers etc.


+2 Dan Pete Roggeman
Chad K  - Oct. 2, 2019, 8:42 a.m.

Whoo! This makes me excited for rebuilding my 1994 Landcruiser. Got a few years before I'm ready to undertake the project, but I am already excited.


+1 Dan
Cooper Quinn  - Oct. 2, 2019, 9:03 a.m.

That bicycle has a distinct lack of pivots, tho.


+2 Cooper Quinn Dan
earle.b  - Oct. 2, 2019, 9:25 a.m.

Came down to the comments to point that out.


+1 AJ Barlas
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 2, 2019, 3:11 p.m.

You guys need to brush up on your dad-servations.


+4 Dan AJ Barlas Metacomet Mike McArthur
Cam McRae  - Oct. 2, 2019, 3:51 p.m.

Who needs hyper-literal 10-year old boys when we've got you two!


AJ Barlas  - Oct. 2, 2019, 6:47 p.m.

The next one serves double duty and will make up for it. 😉


Velocipedestrian  - Oct. 4, 2019, 9:07 p.m.

Do we need to Trust you on that?


+2 Timer twk
Cr4w  - Oct. 2, 2019, 9:27 a.m.

And mixmatched brakes that I think an @AMajor would love.


+1 twk
Timer  - Oct. 2, 2019, 1:50 p.m.

People ascribe all kinds of magical properties to the Shigura brakes, even more power, better modulation, bite point, reliability....

But the reality might be that they are just more robust and cheaper replacements if the magura master cylinder breaks. ;-)


+1 Cam McRae
AJ Barlas  - Oct. 2, 2019, 6:48 p.m.

Entirely possible. But friends in Europe have been mixing Shimano levers with Magura brakes for ages. It’s only newer on these shores. 🙂


+4 Timer AJ Barlas delusional Pete Roggeman
OwenFoster  - Oct. 3, 2019, 10:44 a.m.

It's all just so personal with stoppers isn't it?

I was advised to try Magura MT7s from a friend recovering the use of this arms after a C-spine injury, he found they had 'the most power for the least effort'  

I found this true and the application of the clamp to the rotor really jived with me.  A lot less on/off than typical Shimano yet more confidence inspiring than a sram dish sponge.  

The issue was the levers.  I found myself not a fan of the feel, material choices, durability, bleed porting or even the look / industrial design.  Having a real love for Shimano brakes and the wanting to match the group for which I already had m9000 cranks, mech, chain and originally cassette (OneUp'd to 11-45) I purchased some M9000 trail levers and cut the MT7 levers loose.  

I wouldn't ascribe magical powers to the hacked setup but I did immediately have the ability to cast spells on forest gnomes causing them to burst into chorus, have won the lottery 52 weeks in a row and last month I cracked the sky with a wink and a nod.  Probably unrelated... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelic_experience


+2 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman
Timer  - Oct. 3, 2019, 11:14 a.m.

Entirely unrelated ...

BRB, going to the basement to craft shimano levers to my maguras while standing in a circle and chanting summons...


-2 person person Dan dorkweed Cam McRae
ExtraSpecialandBitter  - Oct. 2, 2019, 9:28 a.m.

Why is the bike wet?  

Were you taking pictures in the rain?  Do you not own a rag?  Was it hot and the bike was sweating from the stress of the photo shoot?  

(sorry, pet peeve of mine)


+3 Dan AJ Barlas Metacomet Mammal person person
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 2, 2019, 3:12 p.m.
  1. It was raining, or
  2. They had just washed it, or
  3. It looks fucking cool like that.


+3 sansarret JVP Dan
Morgan Heater  - Oct. 2, 2019, 9:36 a.m.

Want to profile my prius next?


Dan  - Oct. 2, 2019, 1:11 p.m.

I've got a >300K Previa with a 1Up rack (and a Fork Up mounted inside). And my bike has pivots. Waiting for your call, NSMB. haha


+3 Dan Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Morgan Heater  - Oct. 2, 2019, 3:49 p.m.

My Prius has a Northshore rack, but my bike is completely lacking in pivots. Except for my knees.


+1 Dan
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 4, 2019, 9:05 a.m.

Pivots optional ;)

Post a sneak preview photo here, let's peep your Prius.


+7 Cooper Quinn Niels Dan Velocipedestrian Andrew Major DanL Mike McArthur
Geof Harries  - Oct. 2, 2019, 11:17 a.m.

How about a profile of a dad in a mini-van full of kid crap with a 10-year old clapped out Stinky or Altitude strapped to the rear window?


+2 Dan Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 2, 2019, 3:13 p.m.

We will be taking reader submissions. Stay tuned.


cbennett  - Oct. 2, 2019, 12:05 p.m.

Owen: "Look at my bike closely" ...probably


Cooper Quinn  - Oct. 2, 2019, 12:25 p.m.


+1 OwenFoster
cbennett  - Oct. 2, 2019, 12:32 p.m.

Inside joke between Owen, Myself and ol' extra-carbon-wrap-Matt who'll hopefully be featured next on "Pistons and Pivots".


+1 AJ Barlas
OwenFoster  - Oct. 3, 2019, 10:27 a.m.

Haha.  Yes, Matt's set up is legendary as well for sure.


Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 4, 2019, 9:06 a.m.

Put us in touch?


OwenFoster  - Oct. 3, 2019, 10:27 a.m.



+2 Cam McRae Dan
dorkweed  - Oct. 2, 2019, 2:38 p.m.

this man has his priorities right.


+1 Adam Schwarcz
zahgurim  - Oct. 2, 2019, 9:12 p.m.

"Real 4runners have 2 doors!"  

That said, nice setup!


+1 Allen Lloyd
Bikeridenow  - Oct. 5, 2019, 7:57 p.m.

Hillbilly hick?  That's a little judgy.  Is he supposed to drive a hybrid Rav4 like everyone else?  Props to him for not trying to fit the sea to sky mold.


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